How to Live in a World that's Falling Apart
When life as we have always known it, is threatening to change forever, it can be overwhelming. In the last few years, we have experienced one catastrophe after another. The media and governments around the world tried to scare us to death and utterly control our lives with a pandemic of questionable origins. Then there was the chaos surrounding the election and the fear of what the new administration would mean for us. Then came the actual catastrophes caused by the new officials in our government – the debacle in Afghanistan, runaway inflation, ridiculous gas prices, an open border allowing who knows what kind of enemies right into our country. Biological boys are being allowed to compete against women in sports and are celebrated when they take away all the prizes, as if there were an actual fair competition. Parents who are concerned about their children’s schooling are identified as terrorists. I could go on and on. The utter craziness of our world right now makes me want to just quit and go hide somewhere. Many people look at the signs of the times and conclude that since Jesus must be coming back soon, we should just give up and wait.
The temptation is to become overwhelmed and depressed. All these things have caused me to lose much of my motivation over the past several months. Truthfully, I have been mourning the loss of our way of life. We have been spoiled as modern Americans by living in the most affluent society the world has ever known. It’s hard to think of my children and grandchildren having to suffer and possibly be hungry if inflation and supply chains continue to be affected by the events in our world. And then there is also the temptation to be so angry at the people responsible for this mess that we are in that we harbor ill feelings in our heart against them. It’s hard to dream and plan for the future when everything seems so bleak. I have to remind myself that most people in the history of our world have experienced much worse than this and that the Bible has instructions about how we should be living when the world is descending into chaos all around us.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul mentioned persecution in 1 Thessalonians 3:2-5:
“and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.”
Paul was concerned that the little church he had started in Thessalonica would become so overwhelmed with the persecution they were experiencing that they would give up and walk away from the faith. But as we read on, we see that Timothy found them living out the faith and longing to see Paul again. In the remainder of the letter, Paul gives them many instructions for living out the Christian life until Jesus comes, so they will be blameless and holy at “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13) Some of his instructions are to abstain from sexual sin, to continue working hard with their hands and avoid idleness, to encourage each other, to seek the good of everyone – even enemies, to pray without ceasing, to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances, and not to quench the Spirit. He writes at length about the Second Coming of Jesus and how that should encourage us to live a life close to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is clear that we should keep living out the Christian life right up until the return of Jesus. Quitting is not an option!
The desire to give up has always been a temptation and is addressed many times in the Scriptures. In Hebrews 12, the writer speaks about endurance:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:1-3
It is discouraging to see our culture on a downward spiral and feel helpless to stop it. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can set in and lead to self-pity (which is a sin!). God knew we would feel this way and He gave us the Scriptures to encourage us to keep the faith and stay actively involved in living out the Christian life all the way to the end. Whether that end is the return of Christ, or the end of our physical life on this earth, we are never given permission to stop and wait. We are told to keep watch and pray and remain steadfast. In Revelation, Jesus promises those who endure a reward:
“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” Revelation 3:10
We should never stop doing what God has called us to do, even when the world around us seems to be falling apart. The New Testament believers were under crushing persecution from evil political rulers, yet they were never instructed to quit – they were given the same instructions that have been handed down to us throughout all generations of believers. Whether times are easy or difficult, we live out our faith in the place where God has called us and minister to the people around us. When we persevere to the end, we will receive a crown from the Lord, a gift from Him that we will turn around and lay at His feet because without Him, we would never have been able to earn it. Today’s events seem to be pointing to His soon return. God help us not to succumb to discouragement and despair, but to remain faithfully working until we hear the Trumpet! Maranatha, come quickly, Lord!